Another seven arrests in the North End on Saturday night by Boston Police bring the total to sixty-eight arrested over the last two summer feast weekends. Similar to the previous night, those charged were largely suburban teenagers cited for public underage drinking, disorderly conduct and trespassing, according to officials.
“Young people from outside the city believed that it was okay to come into the North End area and behave in a way clearly intended to inhibit and interfere with the family-first atmosphere the North End feasts are famous for,” said BPD District A-1 Captain Kenneth Fong. “Hopefully, the message has been sent that anything less than respectful and responsible behavior will not be tolerated,” he added.
The large carousing and violence by hundreds of teens taking over the streets and parks started earlier in the summer, and gained steam as the August feast weekends progressed. NorthEndWaterfront.com readers shared some troubling photos and video of the out of control situation, which spurred a coordinated response by City Hall and Boston Police.
Saturday night, August 26th, had the lowest number of arrests of the four most recent roundups and could indicate the police strategy is working of sending a message to the teens and their parents. The flash mobs where hundreds of youths roamed the streets and parks were not seen this weekend as the St. Anthony’s Feast was held on Endicott Street.
The seven arrests on Saturday, August 27th, included three juveniles for alcohol, public drinking and one with an illegal switchblade. Also, a 57 year-old North End resident was charged with public drinking and offering to illegally sell beer to an undercover officer at the Gassy (DeFilippo) dog park, off Prince Street. Separately, a 41 year-old woman from Indiana was arrested for pouring a beer on a police officer. The seventh arrest was for a domestic violence restraining order violation.
“I commend Captain Fong and Boston Police for listening to the neighborhood,” said City Councilor Sal LaMattina. He added, “I also thank Mayor Walsh and his office for their support on this important issue. We want to send a clear message to these suburban youths and their parents that they cannot disrupt the North End with public drinking and trespassing.”
This weekend’s arrests coincide with the 98th Saint Anthony’s Feast taking place at Endicott, Thacher and North Margin Streets in Boston’s North End. The 107th Fisherman’s Feast at North, Lewis and Fleet Streets was held last weekend when dozens of arrests were also made (see details here and here).
Feast leaders point out that the arrests are not taking place at the feasts themselves, but in the surrounding areas. Most of the youth groups were detained off Commercial Street, at Langone Park and Sargent’s Wharf, along with the Gassy (DeFilippo Playground) and on streets surrounding the Prado (Paul Revere Mall) and Eliot School lots.
“The North End feasts are an important and long-standing piece of the social and cultural fabric of our community. It really bothers me that young people from outside our neighborhood have such disrespect for our traditions and our neighborhood!” said Stephen Passacantilli, North End parent and candidate for District 1 City Council. He added, “The string of arrests over the last two weeks has completely overshadowed the hard work of feast organizers. Going forward, feast organizers, law enforcement & community leaders alike must collaborate to have some protocol in place to ensure a safe environment for resident, tourists and feast patrons.”
Officials and longtime residents cannot remember the last time so many arrests were made in Boston’s North End, generally considered one of the safest neighborhoods in Boston with a very low number of serious Part 1 crime incidents. Notably, the vast majority of those arrested have been identified as residing outside the North End in the suburbs.
“I want to thank the Boston Police, the Mayor’s Office and especially Captain Fong for all their hard work over the last two weekends,” said State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, North End resident. “Many of us were tired of these young kids, that are not from the North End, using our Feasts as a shield for them to cause mischief in our neighborhood. Hopefully the message is out there,” Michlewitz concluded.
The crackdown over the past two weekends came after community members and neighborhood residents asked police to stop the escalating disruption that started earlier in the summer, not just for the feasts, but to restore general street safety on summer weekends to the neighborhood. BPD encourages residents to report all public safety issues to 911 where they can be dispatched to on-site officers.
Boston Juvenile Court sentenced 28 youths last week to community service, a feast essay and an order to stay away from the North End. Those over 18 (non-juveniles) are scheduled to do community service in the North End this week. The juvenile court issued a stay away order for those youths, so their community service will be not be in the North End. Those arrested this weekend will be called to court early next week.